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Winners and Losers: Clemson avoids its annual bad loss – for now

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

If Clemson wants any part of the the conversation for the BCS national title game, it better hope that Saturday was its 2013 version of Clemsoning.

The Tigers struggled mightily at home against Boston College for the first three quarters before finally pulling away to win 24-14 a week before its showdown with Florida State.

If Clemson was looking ahead to the game against the Seminoles, it's not terribly surprising. The matchup just determines control of the ACC, keeps the winner in the national title picture and may determine the Heisman fates of quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston. So, no pressure or anything.

But man, did Clemson sweat. Clemsoning, a word we talked about after its Week 1 win against Georgia, is when a team underperforms and loses against a weaker opponent, something that the Tigers have gotten very good at. Hence the name.

Boston College fit that bill as a team entering Clemson simply looking to be bowl eligible. But big plays -- a 38-yard touchdown run by Myles Willis and a 69-yard touchdown pass from Chase Rettig to Alex Amidon -- had the Eagles in front, and the possibility of a monstrous letdown upset alive.

That was dashed with a Rettig fumble. After Boyd ran in from 6 yards out to give Clemson the lead, Vic Beasley scampered into the end zone with a recovered fumble. Game over. Threat of a massive Clemsoning over. And the matchup between two undefeated top-six teams is intact.

WINNERS

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(USA Today Sports Images)


Texas Tech: If Missouri is the nation's most surprising 6-0 team, Texas Tech is right behind it. The Red Raiders are legitimate contenders for second in the Big 12 even though Iowa State put up a fight in Lubbock, losing 42-35. While the final score was close, Tech never lost the lead and Davis Webb, starting for Baker Mayfield, who was hurt against Kansas, was a 35-of-46 for 418 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. In case you were wondering, Tech plays Baylor in Dallas on Nov. 16.

South Florida: Welcome to the top of the American Athletic Conference, Bulls. Yes, this is the same team that lost to McNeese State by 32. But after beating UConn 13-10 on Saturday, USF is tied with Louisville and Houston at 2-0 in the AAC. And next Saturday, South Florida gets its chance at Louisville. The 2-4 Bulls will be a heavy underdog, but hey, anything's possible, right?

Shirtless PJ Fleck: Western Michigan lost Saturday at home 33-0 to Buffalo, but the Broncos coach took his shirt off and gave it to a student at a pep rally Friday night before the game. The gesture is why Fleck is a winner, but also because of the arms and abs. You don't often see a coach that looks like he works out with his players. Must be all the rowing.

UMass: UMass notched its first win of the season with a 17-10 triumph over Miami (Ohio) in the battle of winless Mid-American Conference teams. The win gave the Minutemen their second win as a member of the FBS in its second season. They defeated Akron 22-14 last November. Unfortunately, as you’ll note in the losers section of this post, no one was there to see the win.

Tulane: Cairo Santos, the 2012 Lou Groza Award winner, kicked a 42-yard game-winning field goal in overtime – one of his five on the day – to give the Tulane a 36-33 win over East Carolina. It also gave the Green Wave five wins for the first time since 2004. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Tulane football program has had a tough time getting back on track. But now it is one win away from its first bowl-eligible season since 2002. That year, the Green Wave went 8-5 and won the Hawaii Bowl.

BONUS WINNER

Doesn't this picture perfectly encapsulate Nebraska's 44-7 throttling of Purdue? We've got Husker receiver Quincy Enunwa flying into the end zone while Leroy Clark can only watch with his helmet flying off. Heck, it probably perfectly encapsulates the Boilermakers' season. Purdue is 1-5 and has lost its last three games by a combined 99 points.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

LOSERS

Arkansas: When the opposing coach has to express condolences about how badly he beat you, you know it was a tough day. A 30 yards passing type of tough day. While Arkansas broke off a couple of big runs against South Carolina in its 52-7 loss, quarterback Brandon Allen was just 4-of-12 through the air for those 30 yards. After four straight losses, it doesn't get easier for the Hogs next week. They're going to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama.

Bo Wallace: We've been here before, Bo. Prior to being shut out against Alabama, the Mississippi QB lobbed some trash talk in the direction of the Tide's defensive backs and bragged his receivers were better than Texas A&M's. Well, Ole Miss got shut out by Alabama. And then lost to Auburn. And lost to A&M on Saturday night after a field goal went through the uprights as time expired.

Wallace and Ole Miss hung with Johnny Manziel and the Aggies all night, but after getting the ball back with three minutes to go, they went three-and-out. That set up A&M for that winning field goal and a third straight division loss for the Rebels.

Michigan: It might not be fair to call Michigan the worst undefeated team coming into Saturday’s game against Penn State, but it was certainly the luckiest. Week after week the Wolverines had some timely plays go their way, but all of that finally caught up to them during a 43-40 4OT loss to the Nittany Lions. Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons missed a 52-yard field goal to win at the end of regulation and then two in overtime to help with the loss. Many thought the Wolverines might put up a fight for the Big Ten title, but their schedule gets only tougher from here on out.

Crowds: We understand that the first kickoffs of the day don't leave a ton of time for tailgating and transportation unless you get started really early. But come on TCU.

And come on, UMass. You won today!

Pac-12 officiating: This conference's officiating crews have had a tough 2013. They were reprimanded following the Wisconsin-Arizona State game and were questioned following last week’s Stanford-Washington finish. And this week, during the Oregon-Washington game, one official had no idea who to call a penalty was called. The pause drew boos from the crowd while the official consulted with another official before a different official yelled the number. It was, once again, not a good look for Pac-12 officiating.

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Graham Watson contributed to this post

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